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Managed IT Makes Your Business More Resilient And Efficient

Managed Services For BusinessesTechnology is necessary for so many businesses, but some don’t know how best to approach managing it. This is particularly difficult for businesses that have limited budgets and workforces, which leads organizations to simply go without the support in favor of saving some cash. Of course, when something goes wrong, it’s more noticeable and could cause major troubles in the future. This break-fix IT is far from the best way to approach IT maintenance, but how can you make sure your budget doesn’t suffer from it?

The primary reason why break-fix IT is such an issue for SMBs is mostly because they don’t have the freedom that a larger enterprise might have in their budget. This means that they don’t necessarily have funds put away to onboard a team of technicians, and that employees often have to deal with their own IT maintenance in addition to their normal responsibilities. If they have support for their technology troubles, it’s generally done through a break-fix provider who only administers their technology assistance when it’s too late to prevent problems. Either way, your organization is in a tough position.

IT Support is Important for Your Entire Organization
Contrary to popular belief, poor IT administration isn’t just a localized effect on the employee who can’t access their email or navigate their network storage. When one employee can’t do these things, they fall behind. What happens if they are part of a critical project management crew that’s on a deadline? Even more trying is when an employee finds malicious messages in their inbox and the entire organization is threatened by a data breach. Issues like these aren’t difficult to prevent, but if you aren’t proactive about it, prepare for your budget to be punished.

Long story short, if one employee can’t do their job properly, everyone else who relies on them will also be held up. This chain reaction can create incredible downtime which can cripple your organization in both the short term and long term. Eventually, it could become so bad that it’s difficult to recover, making it ideal to simply prevent problems from happening in the first place.

How Managed IT Helps
Preventative measures can ensure your technology doesn’t experience issues in the first place, which can be a significant first step toward preserving your organization. Break-fix measures will only resolve the current problem, not take steps toward preventing them in the future. Managed IT–outsourced technical expertise offered by Excalibur Technology–can allow your business to function as if it had an in-house IT department without adding new salaries to your budget. All you have to consider is a predictable monthly payment, which is something that break-fix IT can never provide.

Through the power of remote technology, we can monitor your infrastructure and address problems that need to be handled promptly, before they have any effect on your operations. This lets yourself and your employees focus on keeping your business running efficiently. For more information about how managed IT can help your business push beyond its limits, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Study Finds Employees To Be Sloppy About Network Security

Sloppy Network SecurityHow confident are you that your employees act in the best interest of your company’s security with every decision they make? While it’s certainly the case that you, as the business owner, think along these lines, it’s also true that the average worker isn’t nearly as motivated about network security as you are. The challenge, then, for business owners is to get everyone in your organization on the same page when it comes to security best practices.

That said, it’s unlikely that a worker in good standing is out to sabotage your company’s network. Although, an employee that isn’t mindful of security best practices is essentially putting your business at a similar risk. In fact, a recent survey by Studied Workforces shows this to be the case by revealing that 95 percent of businesses have employees in their midst that actively undermine their company’s security measures by their actions and avoidance of best practices. Additional findings in the report include:

  • 60 percent of attacks can, in some part, be linked to a company insider.
  • 68 percent of attacks are the result of employee negligence.
  • 22 percent of attacks are the result of intentional, malicious activity from a company insider.
  • 10 percent of attacks stem from credential theft.

To make matters worse, the survey also found that it’s common for employees to misuse company resources to access inappropriate content.

  • 59 percent of organizations had employees using the company network to access adult-themed websites.
  • 43 percent of organizations reported trends of employees using the company network to engage in online gambling activities.

Even more concerning to business owners is the fact that all of the companies interviewed in the survey had security protections in place. This means that business owners must have a more proactive and engaging security plan in place than simply setting up a few solutions and then hoping for the best. When it comes down to it, employees can bypass your company’s security protocols, especially if there’s some online content that they really, really want to access. In fact, one instance reported in the study was of an employee that performed an online search for “how to bypass network proxy,” and then proceeded to click on the link to access the instructions and successfully pull off their devious plan.

Although, it’s important to keep in mind that not every company security breach is at the hands of a conniving employee. In fact, one of the most effective ways that hackers get employees to bypass network security measures and click on malicious links is by using phishing scams and social engineering tactics via email and social media. Essentially, you can’t assume that every worker knows what to look for and has the ability to spot such a scam. Therefore, it’s always a good move on the business owner’s part to provide network-security related training for their staff.

What’s all of this mean for your business? For starters, it means taking an active role in your company’s network security, especially when it comes to making sure that your staff understands and commits to the ins and outs of security best practices. To that end, Excalibur Technology can help. We can provide your business with appropriate protection, as well as provide a remote monitoring service in order to watch your network for threats, which could very well come from employees misusing company resources. We can also equip your business with additional security solutions that will help you sleep at night. To learn more, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


Is Cloud Waste Eating Away At Your Company’s Bottom Line?

Cloud WasteHave you ever heard the phrase, “Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing?” Well, there’s a hint of truth to this, especially in the business world. Just because your cloud solution allows your business to store a huge amount of data in the cloud, doesn’t mean that you are getting the best return-on-investment. In fact, you might just be unknowingly wasting resources that would be better used elsewhere.

This “cloud waste” is more common than you might suspect. This happens when your organization consumes more cloud resources than it actually needs to. Business 2 Community outlines several of the most common ways that cloud waste can become apparent.

  • Instances or VMs which are left running, chewing up $/CPU-Hr costs and network charges
  • Orphaned volumes (volumes not attached to any servers), which are not being used and incurring monthly $/GB charges
  • Old snapshots of those or other volumes
  • Old, out-of-date machine images

Keep in mind that the major thing to remember about waste is that it’s almost always preventable. In this particular case, cloud waste can damage the bottom line of your organization. More than just your return on investment, it also diminishes return on equity and net revenue.

Cloud waste even hurts the bottom lines of the cloud providers, specifically because they are most profitable when they oversubscribe their data centers. If cloud providers can’t oversubscribe, they then build more data centers, which is too expensive to yield any significant return-on-investment. While this may not immediately be a problem for consumers, it can potentially become one. Most notably, a profit-minded business may choose to supplement this decrease in income by increasing the overall price of their product or service, which means that consumers will wind up paying more in the long run than they would if basic cloud waste best practices were adhered to.

Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest if cloud waste is mitigated. Furthermore, you should be planning to avoid it during the implementation process. This often involves a second opinion from a trusted technician or IT provider, but the average SMB might not have in-house professionals who are trained to look for this type of issue. Often times, a fresh pair of eyes and a new outlook might be just enough to resolve your cloud waste issue. To this end, Excalibur Technology would be happy to help. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


6 Data Backup Best Practices Your Business Continuity Plan Needs

Business Continuity PlanThe future of any organization is only as good as its business continuity plan. This is a well thought out plan that instructs a company of what to do in the face of a disaster, so they can return to normal operations as quickly as possible. One key part of every business continuity plan that should never be overlooked: the backing up and recovery of your data.

After all, there are many aspects of your business that can be replaced should it be destroyed or lost in a disaster, such as office furniture, computer equipment, and even the office building itself. Although, your company’s data is unique, which makes it irreplaceable. Therefore, we want to share with you six best practices when it comes to backing up your data so that your business will be fully prepared to overcome any potential disaster.

How many of these best practices are you already doing? Which ones can you incorporate into your current IT setup? Read on to find out!

Backup to the Cloud
There are a variety of ways to back up your company’s data, but the best way is to utilize a cloud-based BDR system. In addition to giving you anytime/anywhere access to your data, storing your backed-up data in the cloud assures that it will survive AND be accessible, should something devastating happen to your physical office building–a case that can’t be made with traditional tape backup.

Take Multiple Backups
Another disadvantage of tape backup is that it’s generally used to only take one backup per day, which means you could potentially lose an entire day’s worth of work in the event of a disaster. Alternatively, a solution like BDR takes backup copies of your data every fifteen minutes, and it’s a process that’s done automatically, meaning that you or your staff don’t have to waste time swapping out tapes.

Store Backups in Different Locations
Another advantage of a cloud-based backup system like BDR is that multiple copies of your data are stored across several physical locations. After all, what’s the point of backing up your data to protect your business if one or even two locations where your data was housed ends up becoming devastated by a disaster? This is a serious shortcoming of tape backup that should give every business owner pause.

Have a Quick Recovery Time Objective
After a disaster, it’s ideal for your business continuity plan to include ways to get operations up and running again as quickly as possible. This is especially the case when it comes to accessing your company’s data, seeing as the average modern business can accomplish very little without it. Therefore, you’re going to want to take advantage of BDR’s data recovery feature, which allows the BDR device itself to act as a temporary server, should something happen to your IT infrastructure. Essentially, this feature allows the quickest recovery time objective possible for your business.

Have a Maximum Recovery Point Objective
Another important factor of data recover is the recovery point objective. This is where you set a goal for how much data you wish to be recovered post-disaster. Of course, you’ll want to recover as much data as possible, and working with an IT professional to incorporate this into your business continuity plan is how this is achieved, and it’s another backup best practice that BDR is designed for.

Plan to Protect Your Data From All the Risks
Seeing how even a small amount of data loss can negatively affect your bottom line, you’ll want to take extra precautions to ensure that, no matter what happens, your company will retain as much of its data as possible. This means planning for every conceivable scenario. Excalibur Technology can have this conversation with you to help you make sure that your business continuity plan covers every angle possible.

For assistance with any and all of your data backup needs, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


These Police Officers Called For Backup… And It Was Infected With Ransomware

Police Dept Hit With RansomwareThe police exist to serve, protect, and enforce the law, but who can we turn to if even the cops are made victim of a cyberattack? This is the question the residents of Cockrell, Texas have to answer, as their police department fell victim to a ransomware attack known as the Osiris Ransomware.

Before you start to worry too much about this terrible new strain of ransomware, you should know that “Osiris” has been identified as a recent version of the Locky ransomware. The police department likely only referred to it as “Osiris” due to their encrypted files all sporting the extension “.osiris.”

This began as many ransomware attacks do; an on-screen message notified the police that their files had been locked, and would only be unlocked if the department paid up the demanded $4,000. As happens far too often, the ransomware was introduced into their system when a member of the department opened a spoofed email that appeared to be an official department communication. In keeping to best practices, the police’s IT department elected to restore the infected server’s files from a backup.

Unfortunately, the backup they had to restore from was taken after their systems had been infected, meaning that all they had were more locked and infected files.

This caused Cockrell authorities no small amount of trouble, as the encrypted files included years and years of photographic and video evidence to be used to prosecute cases. Time will only tell how much of an impact this will have on legal proceedings.

These events serve as a warning to all who rely on data in order to do their job, including businesses everywhere. It is essential to remember that your security is only as good as the people who are given access to your data. Furthermore, it reinforces the importance of keeping more than just one backup of your system. Backing up incrementally, and storing archived backups off site will usually safeguard a business from having the entire backup corrupted in the event of ransomware like this.
Reach out to us at (877) NET – KING so we can optimize your IT to protect you against ransomware and other critical issues.


What Score Does Your Website Earn For Speed?

How fast does your website load?  The answer might surprise you and you should regularly test the speed of your website.  Not only does a faster loading website mean less waiting for guests visiting you, it could also play a significant factor in your website ranking with certain search engines.  The faster your page loads and the more compatible  your site is with major browsers, the better you are ranked.

Want to test your site?  Try visiting pingdom.com at the following URL:

http://tools.pingdom.com

Just type in your URL and get an instant result!  What helps your page load faster?  Optimized code, small pictures, a fast hosting provider, modern language for site coding, number of requests hitting your site and much more.  How do you rank?  As of writing this article, the Excalibur Technology site received an “A” / 91 for our performance.

Website Speed Test

Need help with your performance?  Call the website masters at Excalibur Technology today at 877-NET-KING!


Moving To The Cloud? Be Wary Of These Hidden Costs

Moving Software Services To The CloudEfficient utility software deployment has been a priority for businesses for much of the past three decades, but today’s software developers are beginning to more frequently offer their titles as a service, giving end users the ability to utilize powerful software solutions from anywhere, for what is often a reasonable monthly payment. The dissemination of useful computing resources from the cloud, whether it’s a private cloud server, or a public cloud platform through a reputable cloud provider, can be of great benefit to your business.

In a recent study, it was predicted that 59 percent of the cloud computing workload will be generated from SaaS offerings by 2018. This figure correlates with the trend of more and more businesses hosting their software in the cloud. To successfully move your company to the cloud, it first has to navigate the process of virtualization, while remaining mindful of several other variables. Here are two major factors you must consider if your business is looking to implement a cloud solution.

Integration Considerations
You cannot assume that your company’s mission-critical applications will automatically integrate with every cloud service that’s on the market. Connecting an existing service that you rely on every day with a new cloud service requires testing and special considerations to be made regarding integration requirements. By not first doing your homework about what your new cloud service requires, you’ll put your company at risk of downtime and lost resources from encountering an issue like incompatibility.

The Need for a Reliable Connection
If your business plans on relying on cloud services, you’re going to need a reliable connection. This includes making sure your in-house network has enough bandwidth to support accessing your cloud services at peak hours, as well as a consistent Internet service from your ISP. Often times, companies that make the move to the cloud will upgrade their Internet package before officially switching over, seeing as cloud services are more data-intensive than typical Internet activity. Another component to look into is the connection and uptime of your potential cloud service provider.

Both of these factors must work together flawlessly in order to provide you with a cloud service that enhances the operations of your business. To ensure that your company gets the most out of the cloud and experiences an issue-free adoption of cloud services, give Excalibur Technology a call at (877) NET – KING for professional IT assistance.


Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Find Your Lost SmartphoneCan’t find your mobile device? If you’ve taken precautions and enabled solutions designed to track the whereabouts of your device, then you’ve got no reason to panic. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so you’ll want to make sure you activate a phone-finding solution now (while you’ve got your device in your sights).


For an iPhone or Apple Device
If you’re an Apple enthusiast, you can use the Find My iPhone feature to locate any device connected to your Apple account. Log into your iCloud account or download the Find My iPhone app (before you lose your device, of course), which will help you keep track of your devices should you lose them. You can even track where your device is and where it has been. You can even lock the device and send it a message telling whoever finds it how to contact you!

For an Android Device
Android makes finding your lost device as easy as performing a Google search. If you’re signed into your Google account, and you have your device linked to it, all you have to do is type into the search bar, “Find my Phone.” As long as there’s a device connected to your Google account, you’ll be shown a small map in the search results which shows you where the device is located. You can then proceed to ring the device and find it, if it is turned on and nearby.

For Other Devices
If you lose a more obscure device, you might have a little more trouble locating it. Thanks to a great app called Prey, you can find just about any laptop or smartphone that may be missing. You can install Prey for free on up to three devices, and as long as a thief hasn’t completely wiped your device, you’ll have a decent shot at discovering who has found it. Provided that your device has a Wi-Fi chip, a webcam, and the app installed, Prey can take a picture of whoever has found the device as well as where it is located.

Any devices that have Prey installed on them will automatically issue a report to you every so often, starting at 20 minutes. This can tell you exactly what’s happening with your device. This includes webcam snapshots, desktop captures, program installations, changed files, and so much more. Of course, if you think that maybe someone has just found your device and hasn’t stolen it, you have the option of letting them know how to contact you through various methods. Worst case scenario, you can lock it or remotely wipe it to secure any data located on it.

For more great tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your technology, subscribe to Excalibur Technology’s blog.


These 25 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Help Make Cars Intelligent And Safer

Automated Driverless CarBy now you’ve heard of self-driving cars insofar that you understand that there are engineers from all over the United States and abroad working with AI to develop systems that can create safer traffic conditions and cut down on emissions with efficiency. But what you may not know is that there are many drivers concerned at the development and deployment of these autonomous systems.

The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan conducted a study that found that over one-third of all drivers are “very concerned” about riding in a self-driving car, while two-thirds of respondents are “very or moderately concerned”. It doesn’t seem as if the public is necessarily ready for this technology to be deployed; even though there are places where it has been shown to reduce traffic incidents substantially.

A car is many consumers’ “biggest” purchase, and with the car a person drives inexorably tied to their social status, people are not in a big rush to give up purchasing and driving cars without paying much mind for a car’s practical and safety information. With an autonomous vehicle, the driver’s role is now taken over by a computer, a completely terrifying prospect for some folks.

The reality is, however, that these cars are far and beyond more reliable than any human-driven car could possibly be. That’s because the human mind isn’t capable of the accuracy of these computing systems. Today what you see in lieu of full-on automated driving, are car manufacturers using some of the technologies developed for that purpose to improve the manual usage of the automobile. Marketed as advanced driver assistance systems (or ADAS), many newer cars offer some or all of the following options:

How many of these systems have you recognized on your family car?

These options have been slowly implemented as driver-assistance options. By using them incrementally rather than as part of a completely automated system it allows today’s drivers to avoid accidents while still getting the function out of their purchase.

One way that the automotive industry is currently taking advantage of ADAS technology is to have it assist drivers when needed. This is a much different approach than using it to fully automate the entire driving experience, and one that produces some confusion by drivers who are used to doing things a certain way behind the wheel.

Toyota’s “Guardian Angel” program is one example of a major car manufacturer working ADAS technology into a car to improve safety without negatively altering the driving experience. This program has the AI learn the driver’s habits as to give feedback while the car is being driven. Some ADAS options do take over the control of the car in times where motorists typically struggle with the goal to leverage the technology that’s available to improve safety and limit the amount of vehicular-related deaths (currently about 30,000 per year in the U.S.).

One caveat to successfully creating software that aids in the driving experience is that developers have to have an understanding of practical situations to interrupt a driver’s control of the vehicle. The CEO of Toyota Research Institute, Gil Pratt, went on to talk about this very subject to CIO magazine. “Your car may someday warn you several times about a particularly dangerous driving habit you have before taking control of the wheel. Autonomous driving capabilities are measured on a government scale of zero to four, with zero being no automation, and four being fully automated. The focus of most of the discussion among car makers today is how far up the scale they should go and how quickly. There’s a lot of discussion in the industry whether we go incrementally up the scale or whether we jump.”

It is important, especially with the public’s overwhelmingly negative perception of automobile automation, that these features are accurately assessing live situations. Up to 20 of the most visible car manufacturers have accepted this step-by-step approach to automobile automation as published by CIO, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced earlier this year that 20 automakers have pledged to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard on their cars by 2022.”

What are your thoughts? Are you willing to ride in a self-driving car? Can you trust your safety and that of your family to assisted-driving technology? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.


20% Of Customers And Revenue Are A Lot To Lose From A Single Data Breach

Data Breach SplashData breaches are common problems for businesses of all shapes and sizes. In fact, they often have huge repercussions that aren’t initially seen in the heat of the moment. How can you make sure that a data breach won’t negatively impact your business, even well after you’ve fixed the initial problem?

Cisco, for example, claims that out of all companies that experienced a major data breach in 2016, over one-third of them lost more than 20 percent of their customers, opportunities, or revenue. This clearly shows that your business has far more than just data on the line when it comes to cybersecurity. Simply put, by not taking measures to keep your organization secure, you stand to put the future of your business itself at risk.

This makes sense, especially when you consider a consumer’s natural reaction to a poor experience with a specific vendor or brand. If you were a customer at a store that experienced a major data breach (one in which your financial information was stolen), would you still want to shop there? Many organizations will reassure their customers that the vulnerability has been resolved, and some might even offer to make amends for their careless handling of customer data. Yet, sometimes even this isn’t enough to retain customers, and often times, you won’t find this out until it’s too late.

As a small business owner, can you imagine what it would feel like to lose as much as 20 percent of your current clientele? Large organizations might have enough resources and offerings to make the loss seem more manageable, but chances are that a 20-percent loss would be a huge hit for any smaller organization.

Furthermore, it’s likely that such a loss of customers, opportunities, or revenue would affect long-term growth. If your organization loses 20 percent of its customers, that’s not just lost business for you–that’s a whole bunch of customers who won’t recommend your organization to new clients. What’s worse, they may even tell others about your business, but not in the way that you want them to. Before you know it, you’ll have former customers telling their contacts all of the ugly details about their experience with your business, data breaches notwithstanding.

In other words, not only does a data breach represent a loss of revenue, but also a loss of potential resources that could be utilized to further advance your business in the future.

Thus, a relatively small issue could transform into a major problem that puts the future of your business in jeopardy. Cisco also found that the following problems were concerning for organizations that experienced a data breach:

  • Cyber threats in 2016 increased in power and sophistication.
  • Cybersecurity efforts by organizations aren’t able to investigate all of the alerts they get in a single day (56 percent is the average).
  • However, despite cyber attacks growing in complexity, hackers still utilized “classic attack methods seen in 2010.”

Cyber threats continue to evolve into bigger, more dangerous threats that are harder to counter and prepare for. Despite this fact, it’s still your responsibility to make sure that any potential data breach doesn’t spell the end for your enterprise. It’s clear that, in order to guarantee the success of your business’s future, you need to implement powerful and focused security solutions designed to prevent breaches in the first place.

Excalibur Technology can help your business implement technology solutions designed to limit breaches and manage risk more effectively. With our protection services that cover multiple security layers and remote monitoring and management service, you will have little to fear. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.



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